Roadway Emergency Proves Value of "Go-Team"

At 2:37 P.M. on Feb. 13, 2004, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company in Harford County, MD, was alerted for a vehicle accident with entrapment on Thomas Run Road near Ruff’s Mill Road. Paramedic 391 and Rescue 351 responded at 2:38. While enroute, the...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

Upon arrival of the Go-Team, a decision was reached among all involved to chemically sedate the patient, then determine the next step once some of the vehicle could be removed from around his lower extremities. Again, due to the positions of the patient’s leg and the guardrail, it was impossible to determine whether his foot or leg was impaled. After enough of the door was removed with a high-pressure air saw, firefighters began to lift the guardrail at the same time they pushed the dash forward. This required the simultaneous use of four hydraulic rescue tools.

At the same time, firefighters stabilized the floorboard of the car and the back end of the guardrail to eliminate the seesaw effect. Just under 90 minutes into the incident, firefighters pushed the dash away from the patient’s leg and foot. It was then determined that his foot and leg had not become impaled, as feared, so there was no need for further medical or rescue intervention. The patient was moved to the ambulance for transport to a landing site under the care of a trauma physician.

This call points to the importance of multi-jurisdictional cooperation. Such relationships help emergency incidents such as this one flow smoothly and provide for maximum patient benefits. Units on the scene included Bel Air Paramedic 391, Rescue 351 and Engine 313; Harford County Sheriff’s Office; Maryland State Police Med-Evacs 1 and 8; University of Maryland Shock Trauma “Go-Team”; Baltimore County Fire Department Medical Director Dr. Andy Pollack, a member of the Go-Team; and Lisa Chervon of Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical System Services (MIEMSS). Bel Air Engine 311 and Air Unit 361 were special called.

“Without this total team effort,” Blake said, “the outcome of this patient probably would have not been as positive. The rescue effort displayed today showed how positive and effective Maryland EMS is, from the level of the first responders in the fire service (EMTs and paramedics), to the Maryland State Police Aviation Division, to MIEMSS and the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.”

As with any emergency incident, lessons were learned:

2. Crews utilized a large amount of oxygen during this call. Fortunately, they carry a significant amount of portable cylinders and that was not an issue. However, if this incident had lasted any longer, they would have had to call for additional oxygen. Bel Air is purchasing items that will let it utilize its on-board oxygen bottle remotely, for just this type of situation.

3. Expect the unexpected. Prior to arrival, the company was told that a simple “door-pop” would free this patient. This could have created an improper mind-set about an easy operation or caused an inappropriate downgrading of the running assignment.

4. Call for mutual aid if any special equipment may be needed. Another option for this extrication was to use a plasma cutter or other metal slicing tool for a more “gentle” cut of the guardrail, but Bel Air’s rescue did not carry such a tool at the time. Although it was not needed, it would have taken a mutual aid company 15 minutes to get the tool to the scene once requested.

5. Learn what your specialized local emergency, surgical teams can do. The Go-Team is based out of one the best trauma hospitals (University of Maryland) in the world. The members know how the body will react in various situations, such as this incident. Integrate such teams into your response plans.

6. Continue to train with mutual aid resources. Once the Go-Team arrived, its members worked seamlessly with fire-rescue personnel. This occurred because the fire-rescue personnel continually take courses and attend drills offered by these agencies and exchange information on how the fire department operates.


Richard H. Gardiner is a 15-year member of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company in Harford County, MD. He currently serves as the department’s chief spokesperson and public information officer.